The NFL MVP race has been almost a weekly conversation up to this point in the season. With nobody really standing out, there seems to be a new leader every week. Early in the season it was Dak Prescott before the discussion then moved to position players in Tyreek Hill and Christian McCaffrey. Recently, Brock Purdy was the MVP clubhouse leader and now after Lamar Jackson helped the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, he is now leading the discussion.
This season more than most, the NFL MVP has been talked about like the Heisman in college football. One bad week and the leader drops down the MVP power rankings. That almost weekly movement is a direct reflection of there not being a clear leader in the MVP race in 2023.
If Josh Allen takes the Buffalo Bills from the 11th seed to the second seed, it’s possible that he re-enters the conversation. Los Angeles Rams safety Quentin Lake tweet on Monday evening that Matthew Stafford should be in the MVP race.
Put Mathew Stafford in the MVP Race !— Quentin Lake (@quentin_lake) December 26, 2023
Since returning from his thumb injury following the Rams’ bye, Stafford has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. While he didn’t have the stats to back up his elite level of play in the first half of the season, that hasn’t been the case since Week 11.
The past six weeks have shown that the Rams quarterback has been playing at an elite level. Stafford ranks fifth in the NFL in yards and is the league leader in touchdown passes with 15. He’s one of three quarterbacks to have thrown 10 or more touchdowns with two or fewer interceptions. Stafford has just three turnover worthy plays according to Pro Football Focus while ranking tied for second in big time throws with 14.
In the advanced analytics, Stafford’s EPA plus Completion Percentage Over Expectation score ranks fourth over the past six weeks and he trails just Brock Purdy and Jordan Love in EPA per play. The Rams quarterback ranks second in the NFL in quarterback passer rating over that period as well. It’s tough to find a quarterback with that resume while also going 5-1 and leading their team back into the playoff race. Stafford has clearly been valuable to the Rams offense.
An argument can be made that Stafford is playing the quarterback position better than he has at some of the best moments of his career. His arm talent is still there and he’s completing passes that only a handful of quarterbacks are even capable of trying to make.
I mean...what is this throw from Stafford?!— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) December 20, 2023
Fading away from pressure. Changes his arm angle and delivers a dot to the sideline.
Higbeedoe or Higbeetoe because that is one hell of a toe tap from Tyler Higbee! pic.twitter.com/ECfFoOlTBg
However, it’s difficult to ignore the first half of the season when Stafford had almost as many touchdowns as interceptions. His passer rating was lower than Bryce Young’s and his completion percentage over expectation was dead last.
Stafford’s first half and second half have evened out. He now ranks sixth in the NFL in EPA per play, DVOA, and DYAR. His 65.8 QBR ranks fourth on the season. Most metrics have him inside the top-10.
The fact of the matter is, Stafford has been playing well. Unfortunately, they aren’t MVP numbers. If he had put up the stats that he has last 5-6 weeks all year, he’d have a chance. An MVP needs to have consistency. His current odds sit at +12000 which is the 11th highest in the NFL.
Stafford may not be the MVP, but we can still appreciate what he’s currently doing on a week-to-week basis. The Rams quarterback is arguably the best quarterback in the NFC and that will give Los Angeles a chance when it matters most.